Letter: Edwards doesn’t need a Westin-like hotel and convention center
On Wednesday, the Eagle County Planning Commission will consider a development plan that is styled as “594 residential units” on the site of the former B & B gravel pit in Edwards. The developer’s property fronts the north side of the Eagle River wetlands and borders on the east side of the Eagle River Preserve.
Actually, this is a major hotel project that the developer describes as a “condominium hotel” like “the Westin in Avon Colorado.” The hotel structure will have 182 condo-hotel units with lock-off units that will add 100 rooms for a total of 282 rooms for guests. Additionally, an adjacent building could provide another 120 rooms for guests — just like the Westin in Avon. The hotel will provide meeting space for up to 250 attendees. The neighborhood proposes a diversity of housing types.
The project proposes two restaurants and a 10,000-square-foot food court for a total of 56,000 square feet of commercial space, including an amphitheater, a wedding pavilion, areas for shops, and extensive raised walkways into the wetlands to allow the guests to enjoy the wildlife. It is questionable that the wildlife will enjoy the hotel guests or the events at the amphitheater and pavilion.
Ninety deed-restricted rental housing units in the project seems to be the inducement for Eagle County to be excited about the project. When I was on the Eagle County Planning Commission I was often frustrated by developers that would promise “affordable” housing that was always located on the least desirable land and not priced for the workers who actually provide services. Some things never change.
The units will be located adjacent to Highway 6 and will be subjected to 63-87 sound decibels from road traffic. Inside noise should be limited to 30 decibels and noise for outside use at these decibel levels are uncomfortable and by some standards unhealthy. I also submit that the core hotel workers, maids, busboys, restaurant and laundry workers, will not be living in these 1,445-square-foot “affordable” rental units. So once again, many of the new employees of the hotel will be forced into overcrowded substandard housing for the lowest income tier which can be found at the nearby trailer parks. This, in my opinion, is shameful and this housing doesn’t address the real needs for the core workers that will be employed at the hotel and convention center. It just compounds the problem.
The project violates every element of the recent Edwards Area Community Plan. Nowhere can I find anything that suggests that the plan would embrace a Westin-type hotel, wedding and convention center. The cavalier dismissal of the plan is not justifiable under any rational reading of the plan. The Planning department has taken the term “mixed use” for the parcel and manipulated the term beyond the scope of the Edwards Area Community Plan which should be a controlling document. The term “lodging” in the plan might envision a Hyatt House or a Holiday Inn Express or the Inn at Riverwalk but, certainly, not a Westin-type hotel and convention Center. “Mixed-use” — I guess we are fortunate that Elon Musk didn’t offer 150 units of so-called “affordable” housing for a spaceport and launchpad.
Traffic, from the project, including construction traffic, is not made less by building a roundabout at Lake Creek.
I hope the Planning Commission will take a close look at this project and deny the application. Edwards does not need or deserve this type of development.